Olympia School District Officials Should Be Terminated Over Bus Molestation and Cover-Up

A recent article in The OlympianLawsuit: Olympia School District hid sexual abuse from parents, has us questioning why Olympia School District administrators are still on the job.  The lawsuit, which we would encourage you to read here: OSD _molestation_lawsuit_2016,

Read the lawsuit:  OSD _molestation_lawsuit_2016

presents damning evidence revealed from a previous investigation and lawsuit leveled against the District.  The district and its administrators are on the line for the inexcusable lapses in professional oversight that created the perfect environment for the molestations, as well as district officials failure to communicate with authorities or parents/guardians regarding likely victims.  The systemic incompetence outlined in the lawsuit, combined with white-washing tactics to avoid legal exposure, have left us outraged and in disbelief.  The Olympia School District is named as a defendant in the case; former Superintendent Bill Lahmann, current Superintendent Dick Cvitanich, Assistant Superintendent  Jennifer Priddy, and Transportation administrators Fred Stanley and Barbara Greer are named as individuals in the case.

Excerpts from the lawsuit filed in US District Court (Tacoma):

“…no experience  …an interview of less than thirty minutes, made no reference checks, made no checks with past employers, made no initial criminal checks but hired him nonetheless.”

“…started spending all of his free time riding along on school buses without pay so he could interact with four and five year old girls, including special needs students with learning or speech delays”

“Shafer has admitted to sexually molesting at least 30 District children and will neither “admit nor deny” his victim count could be 75 children or more.”

“Jennifer Priddy Has Had the Batson Psychosexual Report Since 2011.”

“Despite receiving information about the high number of young and vulnerable school district girls molested by Shafer, Superintendent Lahmann and Assistant Superintendent Priddy chose to do nothing to identify victims of Shafer’s abuse, nothing to search the descriptors and unique names of district victims confessed by Shafer, nothing to provide assistance to the sexually assaulted girls in their custody and control.”

“…these defendants’ deliberate indifference toward identifying them as sexual abuse victims and reporting the abuse to authorities and to the victims’ parents, all done in violation of the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments and 42 USC § 1983.”

We encourage concerned citizens to read the facts enumerated in the lawsuit for themselves.  Olympians have been reliable supporters of Olympia schools on election day, and we should also support the school district’s excellence by being critical of its employees’ actions.  It is not OK to throw our most vulnerable children under the bus to cover district official’s asses, nor is it OK to give the most vulnerable girls sub-standard, unprofessional, and felonious service on a daily basis.

 

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Olympia Leaders Silent on Anarchist Hate Group Attacks

Written by Julia C., Westside Oly

Why Are City Councilmembers & County Commissioners Silent on Suppression of Free Speech & Assault by Local Anarchist Hate Groups?

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Anarchists Smashing City Hall

On September 5th, a group of 50+ local anarchists attacked an air force pilot, knocking him off his motorcycle, beating him with a baseball bat, and spraying him in the face with mace and paint.1 A woman in a nearby vehicle screamed at them to stop while her children cried in the backseat. They told her that “sometimes kids need to cry to learn.”2 A Good Samaritan tried to stop them and she was attacked as well.1 To these anarchists, this beating was justified because the man had a confederate flag on his motorcycle. This, however, was not their planned target. The mob proceeded to City Hall – swinging bats, throwing rocks, and smashing out windows, before running up 4th avenue. 1,3

We try to stay pretty positive with our Instagram posts however we wanted to share with you what OPD is dealing with regarding the protests. Last night approximately 50 protesters marched the streets of downtown Olympia masked up and dressed in all black carrying weapons ranging from baseball bats to sticks to socks with rocks in them… At one point the protesters turned towards a patrol vehicle that was blocking traffic and started swinging bats while approaching it. Later, we received word that the protesters assaulted a man on a motorcycle and was beating him with a bat. While we responded to the victim the protesters continued on to City Hall and proceeded to use their weapons to break multiple windows and vandalize the building and patrol vehicles. #olypd #olympia #olypolice #cityofolympia #patrol #police

A post shared by Olympia Police Department (@olypolice) on

 

If you haven’t seen the video, here it is:

The police department has rightfully identified these local anarchists as a Hate Group.1 Yes, like many people, I see the confederate flag as a symbol of slavery and oppression; nonetheless, flying that flag is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution and this was an attack on free speech. This organized attack on City Hall wasn’t just vandalism of a building. City Hall is our local White House and this is an attack on democracy and free speech at the most fundamental level.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that this Hate Group has damaged city property, attacked innocent people, or suppressed free speech. This is business as usual in Olympia. The anarchists symbol (otherwise known as the A-hole sign), can be found spray-painted on nearly every piece of public property in the city.

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The A-hole Symbol Spray Painted on the Capitol Building

We saw the same suppression of free speech in 2013 when a city council candidate had the windows of his business shot out repeatedly after stating views unpopular with anarchists.4 Many downtown business owners remain fearful of having their property vandalized for expressing concerns related to transiency, narcotics and related violent and property crime.

If you’re wondering why City Council members (present or running) and County Commissioners haven’t spoken one word in public about this violence in the heart of the city, so are we.

Maybe it’s because it’s election season and they’re afraid to mutter a word that has anything to do with the officer-involved shooting. Maybe they’re just afraid of the anarchists, who take over City Hall when the city isn’t being run they way that they want. Or maybe it’s because several City Council members work closely with local anarchist groups like EGYHOP (the anarchist mobile syringe distributor)5, funneling federal and property tax money6 and diverting city park funding7 to organizations that work intimately with EGYHOP, such as Interfaith Works and Capital Recovery Center (CRC). Councilmember Selby was accurate when she noted CRC’s Downtown Ambassador’s Program logo resembles the symbol for anarchy.8

Every person in this country has the right to walk down to City Hall and execute their right to free speech, regardless of the message, without being threatened or attacked by Hate Groups. Right now, that is simply not a safe option in Olympia and it is unacceptable. Olympia police need enhanced resources to ensure that arrests are made next time Hate Group members attack innocent citizens or vandalize public buildings.

1.Olympia Police Department, stories from the street, September 5th http://olympiawa.gov/city-services/police-department/news-and-notifications/sfs.aspx

2. Online comment from witness, About 100 Demonstrate Against Nazis, Police in Downtown Olympia, The Olympian, September 5, 2015 http://www.theolympian.com/news/local/article34227510.html

3. City Hall Security Camera https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqtfeT0oIdI

4. Recent Vandalism Has Chilling Affect Downtown, Bellingham Herald, September 26, 2013 http://www.bellinghamherald.com/opinion/article22218612.html

5. EGYHOP http://oly-wa.us/egyhop/FAQs.php

6. Thurston County HOME Consortium, June 9 2014 http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/sscp/PDF/a060914.pdf

7. Olympia City Council Agenda, February 25, 2014 https://olympia.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=296694&GUID=181686AE-7B7D-4E88-B34C-C5A6922AC535&Options=&Search=

8. Olympia Downtown Ambassador Program Director Fired, The Olympian, May 1st, 2015 http://www.theolympian.com/news/local/article26127697.html

 

 

 

 

 

Syringe Found on Roosevelt Elementary Playground (and Possibly Your Kid’s Too)

On Tuesday, a child at Roosevelt Elementary found a half buried syringe on the playground during recess. The district took advantage of the teacher in-service day, which was a day off for kids, to have workers use rakes and a front-end loader to sort through the wood chips – presumably to check for additional needles. While it would be nice to write this off as an isolated incident, the reality is that Olympia is under siege by narcotics use, narcotics related crime, and hazardous drug waste. It’s easy to spot the many bright orange syringe endcaps around the outskirts of Roosevelt and much of downtown Olympia.

This week, tweets from the Olympia Police Department encourage parents using Bigelow Park (near Roosevelt Elementary) to watch for narcotics use and a map shows the many burglaries in the vicinity. Parents who frequent Olympia’s parks know the drill: 1) Scan the grounds for syringes 2) Keep an eye out for strange behavior while playing on the playground. Schools need to be proactive as well.

OPD_bigelow OPD_burgleries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madison Elementary took the lead last year to control this problem on the grounds and educate their students on the issue. They worked with Thurston County Health to develop age-appropriate messaging to teach kids what to do if they spot a syringe or something that “doesn’t belong” on the playground. The “Stop. Don’t Touch! Get an Adult.” campaign is perfect for that age group. In spite of these efforts, on the first day of school, I snapped some pictures of my kiddo, gave him a hug, and then noticed an end cap and the cotton filters used for shooting heroin in the shrubbery.

The breadth and severity of the problem is having serious impacts on families in Olympia. The weight of this problem can’t fall solely on a few elementary schools. We need our state and local leaders to step up.

Olympian Editorial Reveals Lack of Understanding on Low-Barrier Shelter and Opposition

We appreciate the recent editorial from the Olympian recommending a broadly constituted task force to address the People’s House siting conundrum. Broad community consideration has been sorely missing from this process. However, this editorial revealed a lack of understanding on the roots of this project, as well as where the opposition is coming from.

We respectfully disagree that the HOME Consortium is a “logical choice” to lead the effort to find a suitable location for the The People’s House (TPH) Low-Barrier shelter. Even though the HOME Consortium controls this money, this is the same group that created this conundrum in the first place by shifting funding from proven rapid-rehousing services to this poorly planned, high-impact shelter. They awarded County funds with City strings attached ensuring that neither the County nor City would claim responsibility.

Having the HOME Consortium select this task force is akin to having the oil industry commission a task force on climate change. Myopic thinking among this group has resulted in little consideration for the broader community. City Staff helped to find and prioritize prospective locations for The People’s House; however, none of the criteria considered anybody outside of the walls of the shelter. Nonetheless, the City Council is always quick to point its fingers back at the County when faced with comments opposing its location.

The previous proposed location would have placed Level 3 Sex Offenders right beside an elementary school. Now, the choice spot is directly beside an affordable senior housing complex in Downtown Olympia. Supporters say the shelter should be “close to services.” One service that is nowhere near Downtown is treatment for drug addiction. There are needles and there are lots of drugs, but there are no chemical dependency treatment or support services near Downtown. We are in the midst of a heroin epidemic and Downtown Olympia is the epicenter. Downtown Olympia is not the place to be if you want to get clean. Adding to this epidemic, the shelter organizers are involved with a Seattle non-profit that is unapologetically run by heroin users. The Executive Director of this organization recently gave an interview on NPR where he promoted opiate use. When asked about the risks of heroin use, he spoke only of how drug laws make heroin use dangerous.

These choices and mindsets should lead us to question the decision-making and accountability of TPH. Accountability matters, especially when public funds are involved. Lack of accountability could easily endanger funding for all homeless non-profits in Olympia.

The Olympian needs to expand it’s vocabulary beyond NIMBY and “perceived threats.” People in Olympia have moved beyond being afraid. At this point, they are just fed up with the behavior of the criminal and drug-addicted element of the low-barrier population and they see this shelter proposal for what it is – a high-risk shelter that will have significant and negative impacts on it’s immediate neighbors. If The Olympian feels compelled to use an acronym for name-calling stakeholders, here are a few I would suggest: NFICP (Not for Illogical City Planning) or NACCP (Non Addict-Centric City Planning).

The task force that is needed should be composed largely of members not employed by or serving on the boards of social services organizations. It should include a broader diversity of perspectives. The task force should go back to the drawing board and decide whether this shelter is even viable.

As we watch Olympia deterioriate into the drug and crime capitol of the state, maybe we should start looking at other things that could be made low-barrier. For instance, how can we lower the barrier to having a functional city? How can we lower the barrier to public safety? How can we lower the barrier to parks free of sex traffic, IV drug, and alcohol use? These are also barriers we need to get serious about lowering.

NPR Interview Reveals Pro-Heroin Mindset of Olympia’s Non-Profit Syringe Outreach

People’s Harm Reduction Alliance

The People’s Harm Reduction Alliance (PHRA) is a Seattle-based  non-profit that distributes intravenous drug use supplies on the streets of Seattle’s U-District, as well as in Downtown Olympia and Kitsap County.  PHRA partners with EGYHOP street outreach volunteers to distribute needles in Olympia.  The leadership of this group also comprises the leadership team of The People’s House ‘low-barrier’ shelter.  EGYHOP/PHRA unapologetically does not hand out needles in the manner of the 1:1 exchange run by Thurston County.  Rather, it hands out needles regardless of whether or not there are dirty needles to exchange.

Listen to this short, yet enlightening interview by NPR’s Ross Reynold’s at KUOW.org : Shilo Murphy: Drug users are the best people to run needle exchanges.

The delusional and myopic mindset of an addict is on full display here.  “Drugs saved my life and they made me a better life.”  Olympia has given this mindset the keys to the city, and the outcome has been devastating.  Our quality of life, public safety, and economic vitality have been severely compromised as a result.

The ‘Best & Brightest’ in Action

“I think in moderation, drugs are inanimate objects, they have no real values.”  Murphy, who was admittedly ‘hung over’ during the interview, claimed several times to work ‘150-hour’ weeks, thereby claiming to defy the stigma of heroin addicts.  We regret to inform Mr. Murphy that there are only 168 total hours in a week.  That would only leave him with two and a half hours per 24-hour day to sleep, do drugs, and accomplish anything else.  We don’t deny his dedication, but the interviewer did not even bother to question whether this was biologically possible for a human to do.

Despite hiring ‘the best and brightest,’ Murphy’s math skills are possessed by his volunteers on the street as well.  At a recent community meeting, PHRA/EGYHOP distributed a fact sheet that claimed they consistently collect more needles than they hand out, distributing 300,000 to the street population Downtown last year, while collecting 350,000 in return.  Months earlier we had requested this same data for its Olympia operations, and PHRA responded via email that this was not data that was tracked.  If these numbers were indeed true, then PHRA/EGYHOP would never have to import needles from Seattle!  They would continually have a larger and ever-growing surplus of syringes from when they go to have them properly disposed of and exchanged by Thurston County Health.  What a mathematical mystery!

When asked about the risks of heroin use, Murphy only talked of how drug laws make heroin use dangerous.  In reality, heroin/opiate overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in Washington state as well as nationally, skyrocketing past deaths from traffic accidents.  Messages from heroin awareness campaigns contrast sharply with PHRA’s depiction of a great life of heroin use; they state the following:

  • If you use heroin long enough, you are going to see someone die.
  • 30% of addicts end up using ‘survival sex’ to fund their addiction.
  • Addicts must spend a lot of money each day not only to get high, but just to feel normal, in order to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms.
  • At least 75% of people who try heroin once end up using again.  Young adults eventually end up homeless.
  • (Visit the interactive Wisconsin heroin awareness campaign The Fly Effect for the actual facts about the consequences of heroin use.

The heroin epidemic in Washington is so severe, yet none of our public health officials are speaking out about prevention or awareness.  We can’t afford to have these dangerous messages, unchecked by journalists, coming across the airwaves.

Changing Mindsets

It is one thing to help prevent HIV/Hep C infection.  It is another thing to allow a city’s core to be crippled by drug use.  It is counterproductive to operate under the guise of ‘harm reduction’ and ‘public health’ while at the same time advocating for heroin use, spreading myths about the safety of life-destroying substances, and being completely oblivious to community-wide impacts.

It is time for Olympia push back on the addict-centric mindset that is controlling the city.  There are too many families in Olympia who are painfully and tragically aware that having even one heroin addict in the housheroin graphehold is not sustainable.  The exponentially growing numbers of new intravenous drug users in Olympia,  correlated with the rise in violent crime, small business loss, theft, and trashed public spaces are proof that this is not a sustainable path for the City as a whole either.

‘Laws and norms’ regarding drugs were listed as the main risk factor for opiate addiction in Olympia by Thurston County Health’s Substance Abuse Strategic Plan.  This conclusion is based on questions from the Healthy Youth Survey, given at local schools every other spring.  Back in 2012, the survey revealed 4.7% of 10th graders indicated that they had used heroin.  It is clearly time to stop giving heroin a pass.  As long as the path of least resistance for addicts leads straight through Olympia, our community will continue to tumble down the dark and dangerous spiral of heroin addiction.  We believe that the susceptibility of our ‘laws and norms’ must be addressed comprehensively from a law enforcement, education, and public health perspective.

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We will leave you with this public service announcement from PHRA/EGYHOP, which features an improper method (according to WA state hazardous waste disposal laws) for disposal of dirty syringes – which are now your responsibility.  Be sure to read the text below this YouTube video which assigns blame for dirty needles in public to diabetics and police harassment of drug users .

Update: Madison Elementary Takes Impressive Steps to Raise Awareness about Drug Debris

Madison Elementary recently collaborated with Thurston County Health to produce a Stop! Don’t Touch! Get an Adult! messaging campaign around hazards that are becoming commonplace in the neighborhood, such as broken glass, syringes, and discarded clothing (which often contains sharps). “Don’t put your hands in places you can’t see such as blankets, jackets, or garbage.”

The informational letter and flyer went home to parents and was also sent from the Olympia School District via email.

stop_don't

A vacuum truck cleaned out the areas underneath the hedgerow and trees, where a combination of fall leaves mixed with discarded alcohol containers and likely drug paraphernalia lurked. The campus had been vacated for several months for construction repairs, and students and staff celebrated what must have felt like a second ‘first day of school’ after the new year began.

The school has obtained secure sharps containers from Thurston County for proper disposal, and staff will receive some additional training.  A second check of the grounds has been built into the daily routine to inspect for such hazards.  Improved lighting is being discussed as a preventative measure.

Credit goes to Principal Domenico Spatolla Knoll for his leadership on a safety issue and difficult topic that no school administrator should have to deal with.

While it is disappointing that limited district resources and energy have to be spent on preventing contact with biohazards, it has become unfortunately necessary.  Several syringes have been found on walking routes to the school in recent days. As our latest posts reveal, Olympia City Parks in and around the Eastside are showing a disturbing amount of the nasty debris, especially for winter.  Increasing awareness will help keep kids safe not only on school grounds, but also where they walk and play in the surrounding neighborhood when class is not in session.

Hopefully we will see more successful collaborations like this in our community to raise awareness about the serious drug epidemic and related crime currently affecting Olympia.

syringe_11th_&_Boundary_5_Feb_2014_b0214141537_0001b

Glimpse Into Eastside Garbage Reveals Possible Disturbing Clues to Youth Substance Abuse

At the base of Olympia’s Eastside Water Tower sit two garbage cans. The trash cans are surrounded by  two relatively private rectangular expanses of black-top, surrounded by brush and ivy.  While most people look upward to see the landmark atop the Eastside Neighborhood, the area around the tower itself provides the opposite perspective: an absolutely amazing view of the city.  However, this post will examine a view not quite so geographically expansive. In fact, we will stick to viewing the topmost layer of rubbish in the garbage can, and any detritus immediately nearby.

coolboobswhipcream

The ‘COOL BOOBS’ graffiti on the top of trash can is likely indicative of the maturity of the demographic that left it. A wide variety of beer cans litter the grounds of the water tower, and not just the Steel Reserve characteristic of your local transient, chronic inebriate. Everything from jumbo cans of Foster’s to micro-brews litter the area. The top of the waste bin itself had many containers of whip cream.  Whip cream is seldom mentioned as a gateway drug, but the nitrous oxide used as a propellant in whip cream is the same as the gas used in dental offices. However, in the same layer of trash you can also find evidence of heroin use: syringes, ampules of sterile water, and sawed-off beer cans used to heat up and dissolve the drug in.

cut_cansyringe

While it is entirely possible that each of these items of drug detritus were left by different individuals, they are sharing the same location to engage in these risky behaviors.  The disturbing fact is, this could be any garbage can near Downtown Olympia.  Our community needs to keep an eye on our youth, model healthy stress-relieving behaviors, and provide opportunities for positive social engagement.  There are a lot of other things we can use this space for other than a discrete place to experiment with drugs.